For most counselors, a practice consultant is a waste of time and money. It is really important to know yourself well enough to ask for what you need. A consultant can be a huge drain on your hard earned money. Here are a few of the consultants that I could have used, but instead learned how to do it myself:
- Website design
- Local and regional market analysis
- Social Media
With that said, there are a few situations where a practice consultant can help you grow or expand your practice.
If you don’t have the time
Some people have decided that they don’t want to learn about the business side of their counseling private practice. For them, it is worth the time to pay someone, rather than learn new technology and business approaches. Many of the things that I or other writers talk about may be unfamiliar or scary to learn. I often hear folks say, “What if I break my website?” Maybe having someone walk you through the process of building the site might be a good use of your money.
If you have tried everything…and really have
Whether I am counseling or consulting, when someone says, “I’ve tried everything,” I tend to not believe them. It is a rare person that has truly tried everything. I would argue it is more accurate to say, “I’ve tried everything I can think of.” If you are out of ideas, it is time to find some idea generators. That is what a consultant can be. The thing is, you can also get this from books like “Guerrilla Marketing” (such an awesome book) or the website Smart Passive Income or this website.
Sometimes a consultant can be that idea generator, but it can also come from a number of other places.
If your market is very competitive
In smaller cities it is easier to stand out. Often the expectations are low regarding websites and marketing, making it easier to stand out. But if you live in Los Angeles, New York, or another big city, it might be time to have someone sort through how to help you stand out.
Know what to look for
In looking for a consultant, it is good to look at several factors:
- How do you feel you connect with the person? Can you believe what they say? Do you trust them?
- Do they run a successful counseling private practice and will they explain how it grew in normal, non-consulty terms?
- Do you see results that you are happy with? This may take several months, but do they keep promising things that don’t happen?
The bottom line is that you are inviting someone to help shape YOUR business. The counseling private practice needs to reflect who you are and what you are about. Sometimes sweat equity and do that and sometimes a consultant can get you back on track.
Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a therapist, licensed counselor, and owner at Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He works with therapists to improve their counseling private practices.
Photo used under Creative Commons thanks to Images_of_Money